Uber Onboarding

I worked with Deutsch's creative team as a UX Resident on Uber's "Earning/Chilling" Summer 2017 campaign. For the brief, I researched the onboarding experience for Uber drivers and designed a digital extension for the campaign to get more prospective drivers on the road.






User Experience


The goal was to identify key areas where we could streamline the connection between the campaign and the signup process to motivate new drivers and get them to complete the onboarding process.

For this brief, I followed a modified version of d.school's design thinking process since I needed a framework flexible enough to fit into two weeks period. The framework allowed for critical thinking and strengthened my design decisions around the users.

Context Defined

There was an increase in users applying to be Uber drivers from the campaign, but the retention rate for drivers completing the entire onboarding process and making their first drive did not meet strategists’ predictions. Our team needed to identify areas and opportunities within Uber’s driver onboarding process that could be integrated with “Earning/Chilling” campaign’s digital extension.

For this campaign, Uber wanted to target four common types of drivers:

Future Builders - Shareriders who are successful, responsible, and opportunistic. They keep their eyes open for exciting new ways to challenge themselves, and often find stimulation and passion in their work. They keep up with new trends and stay active, but don’t lose sight of the importance of saving money to support their families.

Fun Funders - These shareriders have solid careers and few immediate financial concerns. They prioritize going out and splurging on the latest gadgets. They have good educations and stable careers, but they aren’t as concerned with intrinsic work benefits. Their priorities lie in living in the moment.

Hopeful Hustlers - Shareriders who are in search of a fulfilling career with an ultimate goal of financial independence. Right now, they’re tied down with bills and loans to pay off, so they need a way to get by. But they’re optimistic that their big break is just around the corner (e.g. aspiring actors).

Whenever Workers - These shareriders treasure flexibility in their lives. They are content and have modest financial needs. They don’t want work to tie them down, preferring to take it easy and enjoy life outside of work. Many work part-time or are retired.

Research & Analysis

To gain a better understanding of the problem and why it occurs in potential drivers, two interns and I were tasked to sign up to be an Uber driver. This was to get hands-on experience with the current process and to see how we could tailor our findings into a digital extension. Working alongside the strategy team, we were able to obtain some data that the Uber team had used to create their onboarding process.

From our personal experiences and the given data, I worked with the UX lead to craft survey questions and interviewed 30 individuals we found on various driving forums such as UberPeople, Reddit, RideSharingForum. We tried to pick individuals who had just started driving for Uber within the last six months and were in one of the four primary user groups since their experiences might be similar to drivers currently trying to sign up.

A few key insights from the interviews:

→ 73% of drivers signed up for Uber because they were attracted by the signup bonus and potential earnings advertised by Uber
→ Drivers found the onboarding process to be daunting with many waiting periods
→ Drivers took 2 ½ to 3 weeks on average from signup process to final approval
→ Main motivation to sign up was through a combination of both, signup bonus and excitement from people they know who are also uber drivers
→ Difficult to check the status of your application since it could only be checked by emailing support@uber.com

Using insights from the first round of interviews, we found some motivations and frustrations they all shared. In the second round of interviews, we had the interviewees prioritize a series of motivations and frustrations that relate to their journey of becoming of driver. We wanted to find patterns that might have caused the shift in drivers not completing the onboarding process. From the exercise, we discovered that bonus and time were two variable that people cared about most.

*These insights were specific to this brief and did not reflect Uber’s signup process as a whole.

Problems Defined

As the research went on, two things became apparent: lack of status updates and time were the most significant causes of new drivers not completing the signup process. Furthermore, waiting periods between driver ID verification and car inspections caused motivation to decrease in prospective drivers. The vehicle verification process was long and complicated. Even though Uber advertises that you could get your car inspected for free at any Uber Greenlight Hub, we discovered that there were only about five in the Los Angeles area.

To put that in perspective, you would have to spend about 40 minutes on average to get to an Uber Greenlight Hub and get your car inspected to proceed to the next step. While Uber does allow for private inspections, which are more accessible (about 30 locations in downtown LA), they come with the out-of-pocket cost of about $25.

The Journey

Building an experience that matters. While there was a lot of excitement generated from “Earning/Chilling,” it created a bottleneck where a lot of people were signing up but few completing it. Prospective drivers’ motivation decreases as time drags out during the signing up process. This undermines the whole concept of the campaign as a flexible side job.

For this, I mapped out the entire onboarding experience and identified opportunities where we could inject digital extension to help ease the process and retain the excitement and motivation to complete it.

Solution Development

Less waiting, more driving. Our final solution was to create a progress feature where prospective drivers could check their status in real time rather than relying on emailing Uber. We also added features to gamify the waiting periods and make them less irritating. For example, I proposed a series of mini-quests that could be inserted into the waiting periods and allow drivers to earn a portion of the signup bonus as they complete a step. 

Rather than having one big bonus at the end of the onboarding process, the bonus would be periodically distributed through completing each of the mini-quests. The goal was to make drivers feel like they’re making money at each step of the signup process, increasing their motivation to continue driving once the onboarding ends.

To get immediate feedback on whether this would work, we bought some Facebook ads for the campaign's digital extension that illustrated how the bonus would work with the mini-quests. The result was favorable and received more hits than the first wave of ads.

Creative Direction

To tie the mini-quests together into one package, I worked with a team of art directors and copywriters to come up with a mantra for the digital extension. The mantra would act as a motivational reminder to prospective drivers that becoming a driver is easy and that driving for Uber is a viable side job that will help them achieve their goals.